Early Rose Bowl Preview: Can TCU Handle the Big Ten's Wisconsin Badgers?

TexasSportsTrackerContributor INovember 28, 2010

ALBUQUERQUE, NM - NOVEMBER 27: Back-up quarterback Casey Pachall #4 of the TCU Horned Frogs passes against the University of New Mexico Lobos on November 27, 2010 at University Stadium in Albuquerque, New Mexico. TCU won 66-17. (Photo by Eric Draper/Getty Images)
Eric Draper/Getty Images

So it's not official yet, but the writing is on the wall. TCU is likely heading to the Rose Bowl to play a Big Ten powerhouse.

It's not just the Rose Bowl on the line—this game could gain TCU a share of the national championship title.

Watching last year's uninspired TCU in the Fiesta Bowl was a disappointment. Multiple turnovers and a lack of offense from either team made the BCS-buster vs. BCS-buster game a BCS bust.

This year TCU will once again face a scoring machine. Both teams averaged over 43 points per game this year. Wisconsin fields a reputable running and passing game this season, averaging 247 yards rushing and 202 yards passing per game. Wisconsin has looked better and better every game, defeating No. 1 Ohio State and then wrapping up the season by beating each of their last four opponents by 20 points or more.

Before you put your money on the over, offense isn't the only thing TCU carries in to the Rose Bowl. They rank No. 1 in defensive points against. A defense that has only allowed an average of 11.4 points per game, they played a six-game stretch where they allowed seven points or less a game.

Don't expect Wisconsin to put up 83 points against this Horned Frogs defense.

Wisconsin has plenty to play for. After the three-way Big Ten tie has to be settled by BCS Rankings, they'll need to prove they were the right selection for the invitation. Wisconsin also hasn't been on top of the Big Ten or made a BCS appearance in 10 years, when they made back-to-back trips to the Rose Bowl in 1999 and 2000, defeating Stanford in the latter.

Beyond the numbers, I believe part of TCU's loss last year was due to disappointment in the BCS setup. Instead of pitting them against a BCS team where they could prove themselves, the BCS cowardly had them replay the Poinsettia Bowl from the previous season when they beat Boise State. They just played it in Glendale, Arizona this time. They had little to prove, and acted as such.

This year will be different. They will play the top Big Ten team in the nation. With a strong win they'll also make their argument for more than the title "Rose Bowl Champions."

In 2004 USC beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl and was voted No. 1 in the final AP poll, claiming a share of the national championship.

This may not be the National Championship Game, but it may as well be for TCU. Horned Frogs—it's your time.

Prediction: TCU 34, Wisconsin 27